As we prepare to celebrate The Fatima Centennial at St. Joseph the Worker thru November 26, 2017, it helps for us to have a little background, and so for the next few months we will be getting to know our Lady of Fatima with some historical background and stories compiled by Fr. Joseph Previtali, a priest from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Adjunct Instructor of Dogmatics, St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park.
Part XXX: SENHOR ALREDO DA SILVA SANTOS, WHO WAS NOT A BELIEVER in the apparitions, drove to the Cova that day from Lisbon in an automobile. Here is his testimony:
"We made our arrangements, and went in three mo-tor cars on the early morning of the 13th. There was a thick mist, and the car which went in front mistook the way so that we were all lost for a time and only arrived at the Cova da Iria at midday by the sun. It was absolutely full of people, but for my part I felt devoid of any reli-gious feeling. When Lucia called out: 'Look at the sun!' the whole multitude repeated: 'Attention to the sun!' It was a day of incessant drizzle but a few moments before the miracle it stopped raining.
I can hardly find words to describe what followed. The sun began to move, and at a certain moment ap-peared to be detached from the sky and about to hurtle upon us like a wheel of flame. My wife---we had been married only a short time -- fainted, and I was too upset to attend to her, and my brother-in-law, Joao Vassalo, supported her on his arm. I fell on my knees, oblivious of everything, and when I got up I don't know what I said. I think I began to cry out like the others. An old man with a white beard began to attack the atheists aloud and challenged them to say whether or not something supernatural had occurred."
This is the aforementioned testimony of the poet, Alfonso Lopes Vieira, who witnessed the miracle from 25 miles away: "On that day of October 13, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before. I saw it from this veranda...." And the aforementioned Fr. Ignacio Lourenco describes what it was like to see the miracle as a 9-year old schoolboy from 10 miles away:
"I was only nine years old at this time, and I went to the local village school. At about midday we were surprised by the shouts and cries of some men and women who were passing in the street in front of the school. The teacher, a good, pious woman, though nervous and impressionable, was the first to run into the road, with the children after her. "Outside, the people were shouting and weeping and pointing to the sun, ignoring the agitated questions of the schoolmistress. It was the great Miracle, which one could see quite distinctly from the top of the hill where my village was situated---the Miracle of the sun, accompanied by all its extraordinary phenomena. "I feel incapable of describing what I saw and felt. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt the eyes. Looking like a ball of snow revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment. "Near us was an unbeliever who had spent the morning mocking at the simpletons who had gone off to Fátima just to see an ordinary girl. He now seemed to be paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun. Afterwards he trembled from head to foot and lifting up his arms fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to our Lady.
"Meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins. We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing. During those long moments of the solar prodigy, objects around us turned all the colors of the rainbow. We saw ourselves blue, yellow, red, etc. All these strange phenomena increased the fears of the people. After about ten minutes the sun, now dull and pallid, returned to its place. When the people realized that the danger was over, there was an explosion of joy, and everyone joined in thanksgiving and praise to our Lady."
THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN HAD FULFILLED HER PROMISE and provided a miracle to prove the truth of her Message of Peace. The apocalyptic character of the miracle – those witnessing it thought the world was ending, indeed – revealed the urgency of her mes-sage of repentance, the offering of sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and reparation for sins, and the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary. In many ways, we can say that the Miracle of the Sun is the great punctuation mark on the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
One detail is quite interesting from the October apparition. Recall that, while the people were witnessing the Miracle of the Sun, the children were seeing the vision of the Child Jesus, Our Lady, and St. Joseph. In that vision, the Child Jesus and St. Joseph together blessed the world. It was revealed later to St. Jacinta that the blessing of St. Joseph brought the end to World War I. It was also revealed to her that the War would have ended in 1917, but that, as a punishment for the imprisonment of the children, it was permitted to go on one year more, ending on November 11, 1918. The ways of God and the ways of men are often so different. The events of Fatima reveal this to us in clear focus.
After the Miracle of the Sun and the final apparition, the three shepherd children returned to the duties of their ordinary lives. Francisco and Jacinta knew that Our Lady would take them to Heaven soon and so they prepared intensely for that moment. Lucia knew that she would live a long while longer in order to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world. Our Lady had told her to learn to read and write for this purpose.
The three children prayed the Rosary constantly and offered everything in their lives as sacrifices in reparation for sins and for the conversion of sinners. In many ways, they had become public figures in Catholic Portugal, and many of the faithful, including many priests, sought to visit them as they visited the Cova da Iria. The children became living embodiments of the message of Our Lady of Fatima.
Next Week: Conclusion of the fascinating story and history of Our Lady of Fatima.
Throughout the Month of November, we will be honoring, remembering, and praying for our beloved dead. You are invited to bring framed photographs of your deceased loved ones and place them on our memorial table in the church.
Thursday, November 23, 2017, Thanksgiving Day Mass
Mass time: 10:00am
(There will not be an 8:00am Mass on Thanksgiving Day)
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Special 5:00pm Mass offered for Healing in celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King
Fr. Kenneth Nobrega will be available following the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to offer individual prayers for those seeking additional prayer (including persons suffering from spiritual oppressions).
O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress.
Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily.
(MENTION YOUR REQUEST)
O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equal thy power. Amen.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.
Following the final blessing at our Masses, please join in as the celebrant priest leads the congregation in praying the "St. Michael Prayer." May God bless us with His spiritual protection.